Mustang. Just the name conjures up images of Steve McQueen racing through the streets of San Francisco in 1968s’ Bullitt. The 2015 re-imagining of the iconic car is a worthy heir to the iconic line. Recently, Ford provided me with the 2015 Ford Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost version.
When I discovered that the model we’d be driving was going to be an automatic (I know, it’s sacrilege) and equipped with the EcoBoost engine, I was, initially, somewhat disappointed. I mean, what fun could this refined, jumped-up four-cylinder going to be? The answer, I discovered about .5 seconds after hitting the highway onramp, was lots, lots and lots of fun.
My wife noted that it didn’t feel like we were merging into other lanes on the highway, so much as we just slipped laterally into them. That’s a pretty accurate description of the handling on this car. The rigid body, combined with some of the stiffest, yet most responsive steering I’ve ever encountered mean that driving the Mustang is more about looking at where you want to be on the road and suddenly finding yourself perfectly there than about wrenching the wheel and bending the car to your will. The car feels alive. Not like other sports cars which feel alive and actively try and toss you like a bronking stallion, but more like a thoroughbred racing horse, waiting for your command to take the lead and put the competition behind you.
How has Ford achieved this? It starts with the engine. Like the beating heart of the thoroughbred, the engine on the 2015 Mustang puts out enough power to ensure that you will always be first across the line. With 310 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque, the car actually gains some vertical lift when you step on the accelerator. This power is drawn from the turbocharged, intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4 aluminum engine. From a standing start, you’ll hit 60pmh (96kph) in about 5.2 seconds. That’s about the same amount of time that it takes your brain to register the acceleration and send a signal to your vocal cords to generate a “WOOHOO!!!!!” that will reverberate inside the cabin. While the sound of the car doesn’t quite match the feeling, due to being a 4 instead of 6-cylinder, Ford has attempted to artificially boost the exhaust’s grunt by adding an exhaust note to the car’s stereo system. It’s not the real thing, but it’ll still give you tingles (and an almost uncontrollable impulse to rev at every stop sign and red light). There’s some lag to the turbo, but, honestly, I was really looking for it. Generally, it’s exceptionally smooth.
Backing up the engine’s power is the handling. Without the handling, the Mustang would feel like it’s actively trying to kill you, but Ford has put together a package that not only makes sure you don’t get bucked but also makes it feel like you’re riding that thoroughbred while sitting on a stack of mattresses while, at the same, time, making sure that you feel like you’re in contact with the road. How? My first instinct is to say that it’s pure witchcraft, but, really, it’s some very fine tuning of the suspension and body control. We tested the Mustang out on wet pavement, dry pavement, smooth highway and dirt/gravel roads. There was only a slightly perceptible difference between then different surfaces. The wet pavement made control a bit more touchy, but that might just have been my inner voice of caution. Running over a pothole or down a gravel road did produce some shudders, but nothing like you’d feel in some other performance cars which have much stiffer suspensions. Cornering is tight and responsive. A 1/8th turn of the wheel is all you need to round a corner, even when cruising at speed.
To round out the luxury feeling of the car, the interior of the cabin is more refined than you’d expect at this price point (base price of 37,099 for the EcoBoost Premium automatic model, which is what I was driving). On top of the standard fare like MyFord Touch© and SiriusXM© satellite radio, you can also get Recaro© seats which, as I said to my wife, make it feel like the car hugs you every time you get in. Pair that with the leather and carbon fibre that covers every surface and you feel like you’re sitting in your own private Gulfstream. The safety features ensure that almost no matter what happens, you’re either going to know about it or you’ll at least be able to walk away from it. With enough airbags to pillow you in the front seat (including a driver’s side knee airbag), you can also step up to the slightly more premium premium package for an extra $2k and get the BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert that will tell you if someone’s hovering beside you or intent on t-boning you.
Pair all of the above with the exterior styling and you’re going to fall in love with this car the first time you open the door and slip into the welcoming embrace of the driver’s seat. I don’t want to steal another manufacture’s tagline, but in the case of the 2015 Ford Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost Premium Automatic (or the 200A for short), driving really is believing. Book your test drive today, you won’t regret it.